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Defense is overrated
Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - The world is behaving strangely again, which means it's time for me to make things right.

Later today, or maybe earlier today depending on when you get around to reading this, online voting will determine who graces the cover of this year's Madden 15 video game. After weeks of weeding out weaker candidates we are left with two choices: Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman or Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton.

We won't know the results until 6 p.m. Friday but I fear America is going to make the wrong decision. Though Sherman is a Super Bowl champion and arguably the best defensive back in football, he's not cover material. Why? Because no defensive player belongs on the cover of a game that is so obviously skewed toward offense.

But I was troubled even before Sherman advanced to the final round of Madden. Last month, the Houston Texans did the unthinkable by taking South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney with the No. 1 pick. No team had taken a defensive player first since 2006 (that was also the Texans).

The defensive-minded Seahawks win one Super Bowl and this is what happens? I hate to burst your bubble America, but that was a one-time thing. Offense, in the end, will always prevail, particularly in the fantasy universe.

Last year, my fantasy team coasted to the title while compiling a 12-4 record. During my team's run to the championship, I employed eight different defenses including the Broncos, Dolphins and Raiders. During that same time frame, I used two starting quarterbacks: Tom Brady and Case Keenum for the one week Brady was on bye.

Quarterbacks are indispensable. So are running backs and wide receivers. Defenses, on the other hand, are the nomads of the fantasy world. Only a precious few survive the test of time.

I don't claim to know everything about fantasy and everyone has their own philosophy, but if you're drafting the Seattle defense before a position player like Ben Tate, you're doing fantasy wrong.

Though Seattle and San Francisco are both portrayed as dominant defensive teams, fantasy results suggest otherwise. The Seahawks led defenses in scoring just two of the 16 fantasy weeks last season. That's two more times than the Niners, who were never the week's top scorer.

Compare that to a position like quarterback where Drew Brees and Peyton Manning led the league in scoring seven out of 16 weeks. Jimmy Graham was just as dominant at tight end, leading all players at his position in scoring five times.

On ESPN last season, only two defenses were owned in 100 percent of fantasy leagues and just seven were owned in 75 percent of leagues. Meanwhile, 14 running backs and 15 wideouts claimed 100 percent ownership last season.

Every year has its fair share of surprises, but for the most part, QBs and wideouts do what they're supposed to do. The same goes for running backs and tight ends.

But that's simply not true for defenses. The Bears, a juggernaut defensive team in 2012, fell to 27th in that category last season. Houston, the third defense off the board in most leagues, scored the fourth-fewest fantasy points while the Chiefs, undrafted in virtually every league, finished with the third-most.

There's no rhyme or reason to it. And even good teams like the Chiefs can have brutal weeks. They scored -7 against the Chargers in Week 12 and were only able to score one against the Broncos in Week 13. By the end of the season, the struggling Chiefs were back on the waiver wire.

In a league where coughing on Aaron Rodgers warrants a flag, offense is what drives the action. If you don't believe me, take a look at the record books. Since 2011, no less than 18 offensive records have been shattered including five by Denver last season alone. And with the way things are going, those records shouldn't last more than a few years.

At the same time, defenses have been helpless to stop the league-wide trend toward higher scoring. The Packers were on the wrong side of two defensive records in 2011 (most first downs and most passing yards allowed) while the Saints set an equally embarrassing mark by allowing an all-time worst 7,042 yards during the 2012 season.

Defense doesn't win championships. It won A championship. Offense is still king. Hopefully the new cover of Madden will reflect this.




Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Jesse Pantuosco at jpantuosco@sportsnetwork.com.


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